A number of nurses and their attorney have been granted access to the entirety of grand jury minutes that led up to their criminal indictments that were ultimately dismissed. Eastern District Judge Joseph Bianco (See Profile) allowed the plaintiffs and their attorney, Felix Vinluan, to view the minutes in relation to their suit against Suffolk County prosecutors and the nurses’ ex-employer and recruitment agency on claims including malicious prosecution and due process violations.
The plaintiffs argue that prosecutors knowingly presented false grand jury testimony to obtain indictments. Bianco, after inspecting the minutes himself, wrote in Anilao v. Spota, 10-cv-00032, that the “release is necessary, under the circumstances of this particular case, to avoid an injustice by unnecessarily hampering plaintiffs’ ability to fully develop the proof for their civil rights claims.”
In the underlying case, the nurses were indicted for allegedly jeopardizing patients’ well being when they abruptly resigned over poor conditions. But the Appellate Division, Second Department, issued a writ of prohibition halting the prosecution (NYLJ, Jan. 16, 2009) and the civil action followed.
Bianco’s ruling on the release of grand jury minutes followed a decision last year by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo (See Profile), who said the minutes should be released, but asked Bianco to make a final determination.